Family of Seaham soldier Private Geoff Gray are 'shattered' by Deepcut Barracks suicide verdict
A soldier found with two gunshot wounds to the head at the notorious Deepcut Barracks took his own life, an inquest has found.
The family of Private Geoff Gray, originally from Seaham, immediately said they were "shattered and saddened" by the verdict.
Pte Gray was 17 when he was found dead in the early hours of September 17, 2001, just nine months after beginning his training.
After a five-month inquest at Woking Coroner’s Court, Coroner Peter Rook concluded Pte Gray's death was suicide.
Following a review of the ballistic evidence, including fresh analysis by independent experts, Mr Rook said Pte Gray was shot at very close range by the SA80 rifle found next to his body.
"The ultimate position is that the forensic evidence is consistent with self-infliction but does not rule out infliction by another," Mr Rook said.
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Mr Rook said: "It follows that I conclude that at the moment he pulled the trigger, Geoff had the specific intention to end his life."
Yet he was also critical of both Surrey Police and the Royal Military Police's Special Investigation Branch (SIB) for their "lackadaisical" handling of the case.
In a statement read by lawyer John Cooper, Pte Gray’s family, who now live in the south of England, said: "Geoff was a happy-go-lucky lad. He had everything to live for, he was described as having a zest for life and being 'Army barmy'.
"He trusted the Army, his family trusted the Army. This was an Army family."
She said his death "still didn't make any sense."